SIDNEY — Some of the fans were there for the artist, some for the music and some because they happened upon it on their way to buy milk and blue jeans, but a concert in Walmart by country singer Clark Manson had a crowd of more than 70 people clapping and cheering in the store’s men’s department, Thursday afternoon.
Girlish squeals of delight could be heard as far away as the deli when the Covington native, who now splits his time between Miami County and Nashville, performed a full solo set of acoustic renditions of his songs.
Manson will perform at 1 p.m., Saturday, on the Saloon Stage at Country Concert ‘17 in Newport. His appearance Thursday in Sidney was on behalf of concert and Manson sponsors Coors Beer and 7-Up.
It wasn’t the first time he’d sung in a Walmart. And it wasn’t the first time the Sidney Walmart had hosted a country singer.
Manson had performed on behalf of Dr. Pepper in Lima and Oxford. Walmart had presented Luke Bryan in Sidney six years ago.
“We call it ‘retailtainment,’” said Keith Cantrell, Walmart food co-manager.
“I think people get excited. You come to shop and you get a free concert,” Manson said. He noted that singing in the store was quite different from his other performances.
“I haven’t played an acoustic show since the last Walmart show,” he said. “I have a really good band. They never miss a note. I come up here and the pressure’s on me. I’ve got to be the band.”
He had not planned what would be on the bill.
“You just feel out the crowd. For me, it makes it a lot more fun. They call out requests. It’s spontaneous,” he added.
His audience was ready for him.
Alyssa Schloss, 14, daughter of Rita and Rob Schloss, of Sidney, was there especially to see Manson. She had attended his concert at the Shelby County Fair and wanted to see him again.
“I just like country music,” she said.
Emily Morris, of Piqua, came with friends, Coleson Watren, of Piqua, and Mackenzie Smith, of St. Paris. They, too, are Manson fans.
While Watren and Smith like his sound, Morris blushed to admit that “he’s cute.”
Rumors of Manson’s lanky good looks brought Ashley Ombrello, Sheila Sloan, Hailey Lutz, 15, daughter of Missy Fischbach and Joe Lutz, and Xandreah Locker, 12, daughter of Melissa Lutz and Brandon Locker, all of Sidney, off the sales floor and into the concert audience.
“We were just shopping and thought it was an awesome thing (to have a concert in the store). A (Walmart) associate said he was supposed to be really cute, so I thought I’d check it out,” Ombrello said. All of the group are country music fans.
“That’s all I listen to,” Sloan said.
For Kathy and Dave Fogt, of Sidney, the Walmart performance was their taste of Country Concert this year. Longtime, regular attendees, they didn’t get tickets this year because they weren’t sure they’d be back in time from a month’s vacation on the west coast.
“We’re not familiar with (Manson). We came out here to listen to country music,” Dave said.
He may not be a household name yet, but Manson’s career is well on its way. Next week, he will film a video for a new song, “Atta Boy,” and take it to CMT-TV, which has aired his videos in the past.
“If there’s placement, that gains traction. You have to hope radio will follow,” he said. One of Nashville’s top producers is now working with him and his band to refine their sound. And their concert schedule has gone from 150 dates per year because they said yes to every opportunity to 70 dates per year.
“We can be more selective about the plays we do,” Manson said. “We just played with Scotty McCreary in Kentucky. You look out in a crowd of people you’ve never played for before, and they’re singing your songs. That’s a really good feeling.”
Upcoming area appearances will be at the Miami County Fair and at Party on the Beach at Indian Lake, both in August. Saturday’s will be his fourth performance at Country Concert.
“I’ve grown a lot as a person and an artist. I’ve worked with really awesome people. You take it year by year and grow as you can. The first year was amazing and every year keeps getting better and better,” Manson said.
During Thursday’s appearance, the singer introduced Jamie Bowshier, of Dayton, a former Marine who was wounded in combat. The Military Warriors Support Foundation, based in San Antonio, Texas, awarded Bowshier the deed to a mortgage-free house in Dayton during Thursday night’s Country Concert.
The nonprofit organization is supported by Walmart and Dr. Pepper.
Walmart staff had hoped the store performance could be outside, but morning rains made them hustle to move it in. According to Cantrell, it took about 15 minutes to move shelving and racks from the men’s department into nearby aisles.
Cody Peterson and Troy Ferguson, both of Piqua and both members of a heavy metal rock band, New Haven, provided sound.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.